Gov. Pete Ricketts shared his vision for Nebraska and gave an update on state government during a visit to Blair on Tuesday.
“The vision for my administration is to grow Nebraska,” he said to the Rotary Club of Blair during its meeting at Fernando's Cafe & Cantina. “By that, I mean make sure that we have the opportunities for our young people to stay here. They can find their careers here.”
Ricketts said the state needs to focus on four key areas that would allow success:
• develop people
• easy to do business with
• good stewards of tax dollars
• promote the state
“By focusing on those areas, we create that environment to be successful,” Ricketts said. “We've been rewarded for that.”
Ricketts displayed two trophies — the “Governor's Cup” — from Site Selection Magazine. Nebraska has won the award two years in a row for the most economic development projects per capita of any state in the country.
“For the last two years in a row, we have had more projects than North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas combined,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said that shows that companies are willing to invest in the state and the people of Nebraska.
“They have the faith that when they make the investments here, they'll be able to be successful,” he said. “That's a big deal.”
Ricketts pointed to the Cargill campus in Blair as an example in which Novozymes, Evonik and Veramaris have invested to be successful. Costco in Fremont is another example, he said.
“That's going to be about a $300 million investment that we think will have a $1 billion economic impact on our state,” Ricketts said.
To make Nebraska a desirable place to do business, the state has grown its Developing Youth Talent Initiative, a grant program that creates a collaboration between Nebraska businesses and public schools.
Nebraska also launched a re-employment system aimed at helping unemployment claimants re-enter the workforce. Job seekers who receive unemployment benefits are required to work with a job coach to maintain their benefits.
The state has also reduced requirements for various occupations that have been a hinderance to those trying to start their own business. As an example, in 2015, it took nurses 96 days to receive their license. Now, that timeline is down to 30 days.
“We are making it easier to get into the workforce by not being a barrier,” Ricketts said.
The state has also shortened the time needed to receive certain permits.
“When we get known to be a place where it's easy to do business with, people will choose to invest here,” Ricketts said.